11 rare and little known facts about a Parisian icon – Le Moulin Rouge

11 rare and little known facts about a Parisian icon – Le Moulin Rouge

11 rare and little known facts about a Parisian icon – Le Moulin Rouge

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The world’s most famous cabaret Le Moulin Rouge is a Parisian icon. A whirlwind of dance and entertainment, this extravagant cabaret has been enthralling guests for more than 130 years. Read on for some fascinating facts about Le Moulin Rouge you might not know, and test your knowledge with our Insightful Trivia Game.

Le Moulin Rouge is located at the foot of Montmartre, a large hill in Paris’ 18th Arrondissement. Famed as the birthplace of the French cancan, the cabaret dates back to the end of the 19th Century. Originally named Le Bal du Moulin Rouge, it opened its doors on 6 October 1899. The flamboyant shows provided much needed entertainment and decadence for Parisians after the Franco-Prussian war of 1870.

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With its huge dance floor and spectacular decor, the original Moulin Rouge was extravagant and attracted the bourgeois from all over Paris. Sadly, it was ravaged by a fire in 1915. The auditorium and ballroom were completely destroyed, leaving only the façade and part of the stage standing. However, it was rebuilt in identical form in 1921, as grandiose as when it first began.

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Designed by Adolphe Léon Willette, Le Moulin Rouge was the first electric building in Paris. Its colorful, electrically powered facade illuminated the entire Place Blanche to welcome patrons to late-night shows – an image that became a Paris landmark forever.

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This includes 80 artists and 60 Doriss Girls dancers (named for Mademoiselle Doriss, a German choreographer who formed the troupe in 1957). In the front-of-house team you will find the maître-d and 120 waiters to take care of the nightly audience of 900 guests.

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Although Le Moulin Rouge is known for its high kicking, graceful female dancers, one of the little-known facts about Le Moulin Rouge is that male dancers are also invited to audition. Exceptional dancing talent is required, of course, as is a great stage presence and a bright personality.

Known for its fast-paced high kicks, the lively and risqué cancan is synonymous with Le Moulin Rouge. In fact, the cabaret is known as the birthplace of the cancan. The dance itself can be traced back to the 1820’s, from a previous dance called the Quadrille Naturaliste. Performed by both men and women, it involved high kicks and jump splits. London music hall owner Charles Morton adapted the dance as the French Cancan, but it was deemed too extravagant for the British public at the time (showing underwear was considered indecent). So, it was reimported back to France to Le Moulin Rouge which is where the dance became world famous.

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One of the more surprising facts about Le Moulin Rouge relates to the naming of the reviews (shows). Doris Haug came to the cabaret in 1957 and founded the Doriss Girls troupe. ‘Frou-Frou’ was her second review as was a huge success. Superstition then followed and all reviews at Le Moulin Rouge being with the letter F. Nine have been created since: Frisson, Fascination, Fantastic, Festival, Follement, Frénésie, Femmes Femmes Femmes, Formidable and Féérie.

The costumes of the Le Moulin Rouge are sewn on-site by hand and are as important as the dances themselves. A 24-hour team are housed on site to produce and repair costumes. The typical cancan skirt uses around 150m of fabric, and extravagant costumes can weigh up to 5kg with all crystals from Swarovski.

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Since 1945, Maison Clairvoy has been hand-making shoes for Le Moulin Rouge. Five cobblers follow 250 steps to produce each shoe, with each taking 20-60 hours to complete. The walls of the workshop are adorned with signed photos of performers. You can also see a well-worn piece of red carpet where dancers have tested the shoes.

More than an entertainment show, one of the most delicious facts about Le Moulin Rouge is its food. Chef Arnaud Demerville is in charge of awakening the taste buds of the 500 guests who dine in the Moulin Rouge hall each evening, where he is assisted by a team of 25 staff. The menu offers the best of seasonal cuisine, with fresh authentic produce created with passion. A referenced place for French gastronomy, Le Moulin Rough features in the Gauld & Millau guide, one of the most prestigious culinary accolades.

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If you’re looking for fun facts about the Moulin Rouge, did you know that 240,000 bottles of champagne are served each year in 750 silver Champagne buckets? This makes the cabaret the largest retail consumer of champagne in Europe.

During the cabaret’s 125-year anniversary celebration in 2014, Moulin Rouge dancer Adonis Kosmadakis lifted his leg above his head 30 times in 30 seconds. With this he set a Guinness World Record. The cabaret also holds the record for the most simultaneous high kicks in 30 seconds by a single chorus line, with 720. That’s 24 high kicks per dancer!

Are you feeling inspired to see these amazing moves for yourself? Take a look at our premium guided tours to France where you can add a visit the cabaret as an optional experience.

And check out our Insightful Trivia Game to test your travel knowledge. Each week, we introduce you to the world’s leading destination experts and challenge you with a quiz to win a monthly travel prize.